HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, January 30, 2004
(Monday is an official holiday at UN Headquarters, which will be closed for the observation of Eid Al-Adha.
The noon briefing will resume Tuesday.)
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS MIDDLE EAST FOCUS MUST BE ON PEACE
- Asked about the Middle East at a press conference in Brussels today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the situation there is extremely worrying, with many people killed over the last several days. He added, “I have always condemned without reservation suicide bombings that take innocent lives, and have also indicated that we need to be active and energize our efforts to find a way of bringing the parties to the table.”
- He sent his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of all those who lost loved ones and those who have been injured. “But the only solution to this,” he said, “is to focus on peace.”
- The Spokeswoman was asked about Israeli criticism of the statement the Secretary-General issued in Brussels on Thursday about the violence, and she emphasized that there has been no change in UN policy on the Middle East. One statement, she said, does not make a policy, and she said the UN Middle East policy should be seen in light of all the statements and reports the Secretary-General issues on the subject. Those statements are consistent, and focus on peace.
- The Secretary-General, she said, strongly condemns all violence and acts of terrorism, including the Thursday suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and she noted his condemnation today of suicide bombings and his offer of condolences. The Secretary-General feels that his position is fair and balanced, and is focused on peace and on stopping the killing.
- Asked about how the Thursday statement was crafted, she declined to comment but noted that the Secretary-General sees, reads and signs off on all his public statements.
- In answer to another question, she added that he has been working consistently to address the Middle East conflict since taking office. He is in constant contact with the parties.
- Asked about UN reaction to critical comments made today by Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, she noted that Gillerman had only spoken recently, and the UN Secretariat had no reaction at present. The Secretary-General’s comments in Brussels, she added, had been made before those criticisms were aired. The Secretary-General would have no further comments to make on the issue.
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